Still from 1983's "Confidentially Yours."

and-white Confidentially Yours is a tribute to the film noir genre popular during the 1940s and ‘50s. For better or worse, it isn’t a whole lot else besides a charming pastiche, though the charm’s so mighty it almost gets away with merely being an amalgam of the movies it’s trying to emulate.

 

At its core, it’s a murder mystery that sorta kinda mimics Agatha Christie, just minus the ensemble casts of characters she so readily put at the forefront of her stories. In Confidentially Yours, we follow elegant secretary Barbara (Fanny Ardant) trying to solve a series of murders police are certain have been committed by her gruff boss (Jean-Louis Trintignant), with whom she’s in love. 

 

It’s like an adult Nancy Drew adaptation, but funnier and sexier, and sometimes even comes across as a Philip Marlowe-centric work (except Marlowe’s played by a woman this time). How couldn’t it, anyway, with a quasi girl detective with this winning a smile and this courageous a demeanor? 

 

The movie doesn’t add up to a whole lot of anything — the murders, unsurprisingly, are revealed to have connections to the boss’s unfaithful wife and her many extramarital affairs, a local prostitution ring, and untrustworthy lawyers, but nonetheless don’t make for revelations that make us gasp. So Confidentially Yours even starts resembling The Big Sleep (1946) missing the ultra-stylized dialogue to make the incomprehensibility excusable.

 

Truffaut was probably trying to make his own version of a lighthearted Hitchcock thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, or maybe he was looking to concoct a fluffy black comedy that might’ve been a great Carole Lombard vehicle in the ‘30s. But given the film’s obvious low budget and its kind of prominent self-consciousness, we feel so steadily aware of what Truffaut’s trying to do that we never really sit back and appreciate Confidentially Yours as its own singular work.

 

It’s enjoyable, though, and it has a decent helping of memorable visual flash to keep us materialistically occupied. But we suspect that Truffaut’d get away with it more successfully if it were made toward the beginning of his career, when his enthusiasm was at its most ample and when everything he did seemed to be outlined in gold. Confidentially Yours feels like an older filmmaker wallowing in his own nostalgia. If it weren’t Truffaut’s last movie, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about it. C

DIRECTED BY

François Truffaut

 

STARRING

Fanny Ardant

Jean-Louis Trintignant

Jean-Pierre Kalfon

Philippe Laudenbach

Philippe Morier-Genoud

Xavier Saint-Macary

Jean-Louis Richard

 

RATED

R

 

RELEASED IN

1983

 

RUNNING TIME

1 Hr., 51 Mins.

Confidentially Yours November 22, 2017        

t’s a shame that 1983’s Confidentially Yours was the last film influential French auteur François Truffaut ever made. And not just because history’s made it clear that he would have directed plenty more films had he not died in 1984 (he had myriad projects lined up before his unexpected death). It’s also a shame because the film, while fun, is one of his least satisfying features. 

 

Though I suppose if Truffaut knew he were making his final film at the time, he wouldn’t have made something so fatuous. Twisty and old-fashioned, the black-

I